Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
26Trip End Oct 25, 2007
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As I entered the Kimchi Field Museum, unaware of the culinary journey I was embarking upon, I thought to myself, 'why doesn't Australia have a Vegemite or Tim Tam Museum?'. Imagine, a place you could go to learn about the history and culture of these famous Australian icons. Are we not proud of our food icons? Korea is proud, fiercely proud, of theirs. Well, one specifically - KIMCHI. I have admitted before that I am addicted to kimchi, I can't eat a meal without it, but at the end of the day, it's just a pickled vegetable, right?
Kimchi Fact 2 - Kimchi contains Vitamins A and C, calcium, phosphorus, iron, antioxidants which delay aging, prevent cancer amd increase immunity
Provocative, mesmerising, jaw-dropping - these are not words I would necessarily use to describe the Field Kimchi Museum. But I would use the words informative, organised, enlightening and well-lit, very well-lit. It opened in 1986 with the aim of 'upholding and improving traditional Kimchi culture in Korea, to research the culture of Kimchi, and to publicise it to natives and foreigners'. They did a pretty decent job too - interactive displays, dioramas and a clearly marked route all combine to give the visitor the full kimchi experience. You can even have your picture taken with a kimchi model. I had no hesitation in adding my glowing comments to the 'kimchi love post-it board' at the exit.
Kimchi Fact 3 - kimchi is exported all over the world. 93% of it goes to Japan (roughly 27 million kg). The rest is spread out all over the place. Australia, surprisingly, gets pretty much none, but New Zealand, Micronesia and Uruguay dig it.
What I managed to pick up from the wall flow chart was that kimchi took its present cabbage, red chilli coloured, spicy form around the year 1800 AD. Apparently, this was when they decided to jazz it up a little by adding the red chilli paste. Before this, the cabbage was just cured with salt. The most common type of kimchi is the cabbage kimchi, but there was over 80 styles on display in the museum. Some interesting ones were seafood kimchi, pheasant kimchi, stuffed cucumber kimchi, sesame leaf kimchi, eggplant kimchi and persimmon kimchi. It seems anything edible has been 'kimchi-d' (kinda like being Punk-d, but no Ashton Kutcher) at some point
Kimchi Fact 4 - kimchi that is served in temples is often much lighter in colour and milder in flavour than normal kimchi. This is because hot vegetables (like green onions, garlic, wild leek, etc) and meat are strictly avoided.
Even though there weren't any free samples, which did leave me outraged and hungry, the museum kindly supplied it's visitors with a kimchi recipe. I guess the old adage, 'give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime' rings true here as well. Didn't help my stomach at the time though. Anyway, being the generous guy that I am, I will now share this kimchi recipe with all of you at there, so get your pen and paper ready. You need cabbage (ironically chinese cabbage works best), radish, green onion, garlic, ginger, red chilli paste, salt and chotkal (a mixture of tiny shrimp, anchovies and other fish). It needs a minimum of 72 hours to infuse, but the longer it has the better.
Kimchi Fact 5 - Korean reserchers have sent a batch of kimchi into space to research the effects of space travel and weightlessness. No shit.
The Prado, the Hermitage, the Deutsches Museum, the West Australian Maritime Museum - all world renowned great museums. People come from all corners of the globe just to gaze in wonderment, to experience the thrill of wandering through the halls, to buy that perfect souvenir from the gift shop. Seoul can now add it's own museum to this illustrious list - the Kimchi Field Museum.
Kimchi Fact 6 - number of times the word 'kimchi' was written in this blog entry - 33. That must be a record for this blog website at least, if not all blog websites ever. I'm claiming victory until proven otherwise.